Death to Books?

Ever since I was a small child I can remember living in a house of books. I loved books.I loved the words and I loved the pictures.

My mum and dad lived apart for most of my life so both flats became libraries full of old books, new books, classic authors, first editions, book club editions. Dad tended to buy second hand books, piles of them every week. He ended up with so many books in his lifetime, floor to ceiling in every room, I would estimate at least 20,000 in the end. Sadly we had to sell them to a dealer as we had no space to store them and no time to sort out which ones were valuable first editions. They filled three artic lorries with books.

Mum buys books from Book Clubs enticed by special offers and junk mail. She has had to slow down as her flat is tiny

My children and grandchildren all devour books and all could read very well by the age of five. I believe this has helped tremendously with their academic successes. After all reading is the basis for learning. They all read mainly non fiction books on many diverse subjects.

For many years I sold second hand books on Amazon which I loved doing. I scoured car boot sales, charity shops, school fetes and libraries for books that somebody would love and cherish and I kept far too many myself. Recently books have very quickly become much more difficult to sell, even charity shops don’t want them any more. My Amazon business was squeezed out by increased postage rates, declining sales and lowering value due to automatic pricing software. Stock became more difficult to get and even harder to get rid of so I stopped being a merchant seller over a year ago

Recently I saw volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica dumped on the doorstep of a neighbour. I didn’t want them and knew I couldn’t sell them. It was hours until somebody picked them up. I am glad that somebody will love them and refer to them. Sadly I prefer to use Google and Wikipedia which is up to date and I can get the information quicker than I could even locate the index of an encyclopaedia

Initially I resisted Kindle because I like the feel of a book and turning the pages, but ironically in the end it revived my love of books.I travel a lot and as luggage is reduced, it is becoming more difficult to pack books so I bought a Kindle. It weighs practically nothing, certainly less than a small paperback and stores endless books.

On my last holiday in St. Lucia I noticed at least a dozen people young and old reading Kindles round the pool. I bought a few books I really wanted to read and have bought many others for 77p and on a a 99p deal of the day. I have also read a few free books. Very few of these were books that I would have actually purchased but I have enjoyed reading books about history, politics, travel, detective novels etc. I have given up on some of them but as I have paid less than the price of a magazine to read them it doesn’t matter

Neither my mum nor my husband can use a computer and they don’t like technology, even so, both found it very simple to use.

So who would buy a Kindle?
1. People who travel a lot
2. People with a boring commute by public transport
3. People who have small flats with no space
4. People who move around a lot such as students or travelling salesmen
5. People with poor eyesight (you can adjust the print size)
6. It fits easily in a handbag

I am a total convert. It is one of the best things I ever bought myself, however I am also very sad to see the death of books in my lifetime.

There are still books that cannot be replaced by a machine, at least not yet. Maps and guides are still better on paper. I still like to buy a guide book, I like to make notes in the margin and use the maps, highlighting, circling and arrowing the bits I want. It also doesn’t work as a phrase book or for education as the reader or teacher needs to refer to different parts of a book.

I would love to see beautifully bound leather books loved and cherished for ever. I hate to see books torn, defaced or destroyed by damp. Thank goodness for The British Library who has a copy of every book ever published so at least our great grandchildren will be able to refer to them and remember what books were like. I know that millions of very valuable books will be destroyed because this generation doesn’t want them and that is very sad.

Many books are now out of print, even books from the 70’s and 80’s with a small print run are difficult to source and these were the books I made most profit on when I was a seller. My grandfather wrote books on chess and only a few copies exist, just imagine how many families have books like this in their families, many to be lost forever

I hope that the next generation will learn to read and will love books as much as my family have but somehow I doubt it. Language and grammar is already being lost in text speak and now we can even speak to our phones and use a spell checker we don’t need to be able to write any more.

I would be interested in your thoughts..


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